Barry Sanders is the best running back of my lifetime that I have vivid memories of. My favorite part of Thanksgiving as a kid (aside from Grandma’s cherry pie) was settling in by the TV after lunch to watch #20 carve up a defense. A particularly fond Thanksgiving memory is the 167 & 3 TD’s he hung on the 2-11 Bears back in 1997.
Sure Barry was a great running back and a seemingly likeable guy. But for me as a Bears fan, the reason it was so easy to love Sanders was that it didn’t matter. The Lions sucked no matter what Barry did. Yes they made it to the playoffs 5 times during his tenure, but they only advanced to the 2nd round once. Things were so bad in Detroit that Sanders abruptly retired prior to the 1999 season at the age of 31.
Then we had Matt Millen, unquestionably the worst executive in the history of the National Football League. The Lions won 31 games in his 8 years on the job. I’ll let you figure that out on an avg wins/year basis, but I will tell you…it’s bad. Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, & Mike Williams…disaster after disaster after disaster. Remember when he called Maro’s guy Johnny Morton the F word. LULZ. It all culminated in what can only be called the worst team in the history of the NFL, the 2008 (0-16) Lions.
So naturally the Head Coach & QB got canned. Enter Jim Schwartz, Matt Stafford and a new era of Lions Football! And in 2011 they were the darling of the NFL. Young QB throwing bombs to young WR playing for young HC for a young team just a few years removed from a winless season. It all led to a 10-6 season & playoff berth. Sure they lost in the wild card round, but progress was made. With young “talent” in all the key positions, most experts predicted much success for the Lions over the next 5 years.
But I don’t. In fact, I think they suck. Here’s why.
The talent isn’t what you think it is.
Really watch Ndamukong Suh on Monday, he’s not dominant. He’s not even Henry Melton at this point. His body is soft, and he takes plays off. The Eagles hardly doubled him last Sunday.
Matthew Stafford? Laser, rocket arm…yes. 10 cent head…also yes. He’s a one read guy with a gun. Much like Cutler, his footwear & mechanics are lazy at best. He constantly throws sidearm and tosses into double teams more than Jenna Jameson.
The offensive line is bad, and worse it’s old. And I’m not sure that anyone in their back 7 on defense could start for Alabama except Louie Delmas. Oh, but someone told me recently that Kyle Vanden Bosch is the “Urlacher” of the Lions defense. I agree; they are both old & white. Wait, Urlacher doesn’t wear tinted contact lenses and commit copious amounts of personal foul penalties? Ok never mind then.
They do have some legit talent, I’ll admit. They have the #1 WR in the game, a promising young RB with a drug problem, and a young DT with a drinking problem. Oh, and Cliff Avril can play a bit too. But the rest of that roster is complete crap. And please, don’t give me Titus Young.
But the preeminent reason that they still suck is Head Coach Jim Schwartz. Did you know he went to Georgetown!?!?!? If you didn’t, just ask. I mean, could this guy be more of a boob if he tried? Watch how this clown acts on the sideline Monday night, complete turd. Harbaugh should have put him in his place when he had the chance.
The Lions lead the NFC in penalties again this year, and it’s not close. And when they aren’t busy being penalized on the field, they are committing crimes off it. Schwartz has had 3 years to clean this garbage up but he hasn’t made an ounce of progress. If a team is a direct reflection of its’ head coach, then Jim Schwartz must be more Randy Travis than Vince Lombardi.
All of those penalties, sideline dbaggery, and lack of discipline end up costing them games. Ok, so maybe being douchey on the sidelines doesn’t cost your team points, but in my football world, it should.
So until further notice, the 2012 Detroit Lions are still every bit as sucky as the Sanders & Millen vintages.